I wrote about PR embargoes over a year ago and my opinion has not changed, this is a stupid PR industry practice that outside of a very small niche serves very little utility. The small niche you ask? Take the New England Journal of Medicine as an example, they rely on embargoes to enable mainstream journalists to come up to speed on complex subjects. Okay, totally see why the practice is of value here.
The embargo process is broken but considering that it is currently the equivalent of sending me free stuff unsolicited and then expecting me to pay for it after the fact, well it’s no surprise that it’s broken. What is more broken, IMO, is the entire PR process that leads up to an embargoed press release, there simply has to be a better way to do PR in this market. I can’t recall the last time I responded to one of those emails, much less wrote about the substance.
So I have decided to share my own thoughts on the problem – even though I see it from a little different perspective. My idea is that breaking an embargo often results in damages that could very well outweigh the value that the embargo breaker receives by doing so. And the damages are beyond how the announcement can be spoiled for the company by being announced earlier than it is supposed to. And this is why it is not particularly fair to look at an embargo as only involving two parties: a company and a media person (be it a blogger or a journalist).